For the past couple of years, it seemed like everyone was raving about this book. Last year, I picked it up because it was on sale and I had heard of it, but not knowing what it was about I put it to the side to collect dust. But now the movie is out and people are talking about it again, and I thought it was about time I give it a try.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (published by Corsair) is a book that’s hard to describe. It’s about the life of Kya Clark, the “Marsh Girl” as everyone in the town calls her. It’s about her struggles with abandonment, lonliness, prejudice, and living in the wild. It’s about love and loss and biology. And it’s also sort of a murder mystery.
This was, without a doubt, a good book. I don’t know if it would be accurate to say I “enjoyed” it as it is a sad book that had me tearing up every other chapter, but I like the book. I thought the writing style was beautiful and poetic in a way that connected Kya’s life to the wild marshlife, and to me it seemed like there were nods to Walden or to Rachel Carson here and there. I also enjoyed the nods to poetry. Plus, there were themes of overcoming prejudices, especially in the court scenes, that reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird, in some ways. I also really loved Jumpin, and how he became a psuedo-father to Kya. He was easily the best character.
Some criticisms of the book claim that it was genre-confused, and I can see where they were coming from. It is marketed as a mystery, but I think it’s less that and moreso literary and historical fiction. Perhaps that’s why I liked, though, as someone who typically hates mysteries! I also would have liked maybe more hope in the book, though there are threads, and it’s not a completley sad ending. It’s definitley not a book for people who are looking for something lighthearted, that’s for sure.
I do think it is an important book, however. The historical setting can help readers understand past prejudices while also confronting their own. The nature of Kya and her biological interests can cause readers to look at nature with a new appreciation. We can also reflect on characters and what is right and wrong, as well as reflect on the differences between loneliness and solitude.
Overall, I’m rating this book four stars.
Watch a trailer for the movie here.